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Let go from his lifelong job of working on submarines, Robinson (Jude Law) is offered the less than legal chance to captain a sub and venture out to the Black Sea to recover sunken Nazi gold from the bottom of the ocean. Banding a crew together the mission is underway but as greed and desperation begins to increase the darkness of the ocean begins to tear the crew apart.

In a climate where every thriller seems to be about an old guy taking revenge or decides to switch genres midway through and throw in a zombie or two, Black Sea was a refreshingly straight thriller that puts a motley crew of sailors together in an enclosed space and watches the tensions tear them apart. With an international cast, along with a multitude of accents (Law is even playing full Scottish here), this simple tale of ‘find the treasure and stay alive’ is told with a steady hand by Kevin Macdonald and his cast more than support him on that.

Jude Law leads the way and despite not being a big fan of the actor earlier in his career, this current phase has Law picking some really interesting role. His work through Repo Men, Dom Hemingway and now Black Sea has enabled him to explore a darker side and it's fitting him pretty well because he does it while remaining likable. Here he’s driven, angry and as the film unravels possible a little bit crazy but Law retains an authority over all of this and remains every bit the Captain of this collapsing mission.

The crew around him backs this up entirely. Scoot McNairy plays his usual man out of his depth (literally in this case) well and provides the voice to our tension,making sure to tell the Captain to get out of this situation fast as often as possible. Ben Mendelsohn is the cat amongst the pigeon here and stirs things up at every turn, providing a character that you just want to strangle at some points butgenerally speaking, the entire cast provide something to the mix to make you want the crew to at least survive this ordeal even if you don’t always feel they deserve to succeed in their mission.

Black Sea is tension filled and when things start going wrong (like you know they would in a submarine movie) it’s very much the characters that make this a rewarding watch. The horrors of being trapped under the sea are fully realised as the situation gets more and more dire but it’s more the character’s choices and the increasing pressures on Captain Robinson that make this that extra bit special and it made for a solid undersea thriller, that's paced well and keeps you locked in from start to finish.

Video


The presentation here is fresh and crisp with solid edges and a wonderful level of detail. Warm sunlight brings the image to life in great ways and makes even small elements, such as Law's stubble or car bodywork look great in HD.

The first act of the film is all lit with daytime lighting and comes with warm skin tones, summer greens and oranges (despite the working class mundane settings). This is all levelled against dark suits and reflective cars but of course we're soon off under the water and it's lights off.

The submarine scenes still hold up the solid looks of the disc, albeit in different ways. Cold blues and twinkling lights are as expected and the odd sliver of orange light retains the earlier part of the films warmth. Black levels are thankfully on the money (doesn't it suck when dark films mess that up) and remain solid black at the the times it needs to. Shadows are also consitantly good and the darkness mixed with the clever lighting, gives the film a great style, making for and all round impressive HD presentation.

Audio


Dialogue is central and strong and it balances well with the tense (albeit generic) score. The rears tend to handle the score and while seemingly seperarly from the front channels at times, the track still feels nicely balanced and the occasional cross over between the two elements adds a noticeable rise in intensity to drive to the proceedings.

Sound effects play a big part in selling the enclosed atmosphere of the submarine. There's lots of creaking metal, whirring cogs and heavy footsteps to break up the engine noise and this creaky old submarine is a faceless character throughout the film.

When required, usually when there's danger, the bass is utilised extremly well and rumbles like a submarine engine to generate a nice bit of tension. It's generally always there rumbling away in the background but when it kicks off fully it drives everything along with it, especially when the submarine itself is getting dangerously close to hitting something or when all hell breaks loose inside the underwater vessel.

Extra


Extras wise there's a short 5 minute featurette, that hardly scrapes the surface of the film but this is thankfully backed up with a commentary track with Kevin Macdonald that fleshes out the behind the scenes of the film much more and offers a lot more insight into the actors and how the film was made.

Overall


Black Sea seemed like it would be a good watch from the first trailer and thankfully it lives up to that. Level headed, straight faced and no additional thrown in element like ghosts or zombies and this heist underwater thriller that soon collapses into turmoil for its crew delivers the underwater goods. Extras wise, its light on featurettes but comes with a commentary track to make up for that.

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.

 Black Sea
 Black Sea
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 Black Sea
 Black Sea
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